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Tabina Iqbal

Languages and Literature, University of Warwick

Thesis title:

Samuel Beckett, Ludwig Wittgenstein and the I

My project argues that there is a very clear, though overlooked, symmetry between the discourse on the I in Wittgenstein’s writings and Beckett’s later works. This begins with the proposition that the I is ‘one of the most misleading representational techniques in our language’ – ‘really too red a herring’ – instigating a perpetual search for an absent referent, and concludes, for both, with the idea that the first person ought to be eliminated from language altogether. What are the consequences of saying I, and why, for Beckett and Wittgenstein, must the problems of self be addressed on a grammatical level?

Taking cue from the reading proofs discovered in Beckett’s substantial collection of Wittgenstein texts, I demonstrate how Beckett’s reading coincides with a shift in his representation of the I across his oeuvre, but also how texts such as Company and Not I might function as critiques of Wittgenstein’s solutions. I will examine the significance of doubt and certainty, the tenability of privacy, the tenability of solipsism, pain and perception. In so doing, I intend to illustrate how Beckett’s early and late depictions of the I correspond, how this indicates a trajectory of the first person that transcends individual texts and aim to situate Beckett and Wittgenstein’s discussion on the first person into its wider philosophical context.

Research Area

  • English Language and Literature
  • Languages and Literature

Scholarships and Prizes

(2020) Midlands4Cities Doctoral Studentship Award

(2020) South, West, and Wales AHRC Doctoral Studentship Award

(2018) John Oliver Hobbes Memorial Scholarship Prize: Best MA Dissertation

(2014) Winifred Hyde Prize: Overall Highest First